Campground guest communication can take on many forms. For instance, email is a tried and true outlet for communicating with your target audience of new, returning, and aspiring campers. However, email has a rising counterpart that’s worth incorporating into your camper communication and marketing strategy: text messaging.

Did you know that SMS (short message service) campaigns—a.k.a. text messaging campaigns—have an average message open rate of up to 98%, compared to email at just 20%? Well, now you do, and we’re going to share the top five ways you can easily use text messaging to communicate with campground guests! First, here’s how to get started with texting for your business.

Compliance and Enabling Text Messaging

As a reservation software provider, Campspot has integrated text messaging into its suite of management tools to make it easier than ever to communicate with campground guests who are currently at your property or are arriving between certain dates you set. The biggest difference between one-to-one text messaging, such as to a friend or family member, and texting as a business is permission. Technically, you as an individual can text whomever you want to without penalty. However, as a business, the camper you want to text must first opt in to receiving messages. The active process of opting in is very important for legal compliance under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). You can even be fined , which can add up quickly. Under the TCPA, you must also provide a clear way for someone to opt out of texting, such as “Reply STOP to this message to stop receiving text messages”, which would automatically remove that guest from your list.

Because you can’t text a camper to first ask them “Can we text you?”, you need to get written permission from that camper up front and as seamlessly as possible. Fortunately, within Campspot’s Reservation Summary link for each booked guest, there is a simple opt-in option. Once a camper is opted in, there are numerous ways you can utilize texting to your advantage to reach them.

General Updates

It’s hard to track down everyone at your property to deliver the same, accurate message to them. Flyers on the office bulletin board aren’t the most efficient and the camp host can’t reach everyone, which also leads to a bad game of Telephone waiting to happen. When you need to communicate facility updates to your guests, texting is the way to go. Pool hours changing? Shower maintenance taking place? New asphalt being poured? No problem.

A phone in front of a pool with a text message alerting campers that the pool is closing.

Of course, not everyone who comes to your property will opt in to receive your texts, but this is an added incentive for those who do—they get to learn about key information first.

Campground Emergencies

In the case of extreme weather, time is of the essence to notify your guests. Mother Nature waits for no one and storms can roll into your park fast. That’s why text messaging is such a convenient and timely mode of communication in this instance. If you have any lead time while tracking the radar, a simple heads up can go a long way. If you have less time, in the case of an approaching tornado and sirens for example, a short and direct message will be even more appreciated in the moment.

A phone in front of a lake scene with a text message from a campground alerting campers of inclement weather.

In the case of other emergencies, such as a missing child or active crime reported in the area, enhanced guest safety and awareness is instantly at your fingertips with text messaging capabilities.

Campground Promotions

Odds are, your campground is irresistible once guests arrive, and no one likes ending their vacation. Why not offer a real-time promotion for guests at your property to extend their stay by one night for half the rate? This is a great tactic during your slower season or as you’re keeping an eye on occupancy from day to day. You may be surprised how many campers take you up on the offer, and that’s cash in hand.

A phone in front of a waterpark asking a camper if they'd like to extend their stay.

If you want to entice guests to become repeat campers, send a message on their last day thanking them for their stay and offering a 10% discount off their next booking or a BOGO deal.

You can apply a percentage discount such as this to any reservation as long as you have a discount rule set up for it. While there isn’t a way within Campspot to track the eligibility of certain guests who receive this promotion, you could honor word of mouth for such a discount by providing a unique code with each new text offer—such as “EXTEND”—or you can track this in another way outside of the software. Because text messages cannot be sent to guests after they’ve already checked out, texting them on the last day of their stay also keeps your brand of camping top of mind even as campers are on their way out.

Campground Access

Whether it’s a private shower room or gate code, some of your facilities may have restricted entry points. A simple way to remind your guests of their access codes and deliver further instructions upon arrival is through a quick text. Guests will have the code handy on their phones and you can avoid front desk calls from forgetful campers.

A phone screen in front of a pool gate alerting a camper what the gate code is.

As a reminder, while you can’t send targeted messages to individual guests, you can send these access code texts when they apply to all guests, such as shared facilities.

Campground Rules Reminder

Enforcing campground policies is tricky enough as it is without communication barriers involved. When you need a fast and concise way to remind guests of the speed limit, noise curfew, no parking zone, or otherwise, texting is the ideal solution. This is especially handy if there have been frequent or recent violations to specific rules.

A phone screen in front of a dog park reminding campground owners of the campground rules.

Ideally, you will only have to send messages of this nature sparingly when guests are at your property. You don’t want to overdo these updates because they could annoy guests and prompt them to opt out. Simply consider this type of messaging as one more tool in your box when needed.

Final Campground Text Messaging Tips

You’ll notice in the examples above that we kept our text messages brief. That’s for a few reasons. One, a single SMS text message will get cut off after 160 characters unless the cell provider supports message concatenation: splitting the long text into segments and re-joining the message at the receiving end. You don’t want to risk your message getting cut in half. Two, readers may tune out or be annoyed by a longer message. Include the important points and say what you need to using as few words as possible for best results. Finally, stick to sending texts during business hours. Otherwise, a late night text from a business will feel intrusive and make the camper more likely to opt-out. As with every marketing touch point, be strategic about how often and when you reach out for best results.

We hope you now have a greater understanding of the many ways you can utilize texting to expertly and easily manage campground guest communication. Happy texting!

Haley Dalian is a lifelong Michigander who takes advantage of recreation throughout the state’s changing seasons, such as skiing up north in the winter and scuba diving the Great Lakes in the summer. A former Campspot marketing employee, Haley is pursuing a Master of Science degree at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability. She is passionate about solving the world’s sustainability challenges, enjoys performing improvisational comedy, and has never met a potato she didn’t like.